Raman microspectroscopic analysis of the tissue-specific composition of the human osteochondral junction in osteoarthritis: a pilot study.


Research Unit of Medical Imaging, Physics and Technology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland. Electronic address: [Email]


This study investigates the influence of osteoarthritis (OA) disease severity on the bio-composition of the osteochondral junction at the human tibial plateau using Raman microspectroscopy. We specifically aim to analyze the spatial composition of mineralized osteochondral tissues, i.e., calcified cartilage (CC) and subchondral bone plate (SBP) from unfixed, hydrated specimens. We hypothesize that the mineralization of CC and SBP decreases in advanced OA. Twenty-eight cylindrical osteochondral samples (d = 4 mm) from tibial plateaus of seven cadaveric donors were harvested and sorted into three groups following histopathological grading: healthy (n = 5), early OA (n = 8), and advanced OA (n = 15). Raman spectra were subjected to multivariate cluster analyses to identify different tissues. Finally, the tissue-specific composition was analyzed, and the impact of OA was statistically evaluated with linear mixed models. Cluster analyses of Raman spectra successfully distinguished CC and SBP as well as a tidemark region and uncalcified cartilage. CC was found to be more mineralized and the mineral was more crystalline compared with SBP. Both tissues exhibited similar compositional changes as a function of histopathological OA severity. In early OA, the mineralization tends to increase, and the mineral contains fewer carbonate substitutions. Compared with early OA, mineral crystals are rich in carbonate while the overall mineralization decreases in advanced OA. This Raman spectroscopic study advances the methodology for investigating the complex osteochondral junction from native tissue. The developed methodology can be used to elucidate detailed tissue-specific changes in the chemical composition with advancing OA.


Calcified cartilage,Osteoarthritis,Osteochondral junction,Raman microspectroscopy,Tissue-mineralization,

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